So Close and Yet So Far

parrotWe were so excited. After seven long years, we were doing it. We were finally going back to Key West for the Parrot Head convention.  We used to go every year, but that was B.C. (Before Children.) I used to go even Before Husband. I’ve been six times and my husband had gone three times.

The convention, called “Meeting of the Minds,” is a four-day music fest for Jimmy Buffett fans – the hard-core ones that join the Parrot Head Clubs. It’s one big-long party, and for most, it’s like a family reunion. We’d meet people from all over the country and every year we’d reconnect in Key West. We’d see friends who’d moved away from our home clubs, make new friends and broaden our Parrot Head family.

Jimmy Buffett’s band, The Coral Reefers, plays every year, and Jimmy himself shows up about every other year. The year we met, my future husband came down to the convention but he decided on it last minute so he couldn’t officially register. Jimmy came that year, the same day as my husband, and without convention credentials my husband couldn’t get into the concert. I didn’t want him to feel bad, so we spent Jimmy’s concert sitting in a bar by ourselves while the rest of the island saw the show. read more

Doggone

dogI know I’m gonna get a lot of hate mail (or at least hate comments) but I’ll just spit it out. We gave the puppy away. We had to.

We had so many reasons. The biggest one was that the puppy kept attacking the kids. Yes, the puppy was playing. Yes, we could have trained it out of her. But the problem was not the puppy, it was our daughter. The trainer told us to stand still when the puppy started biting and say “Off!” when she bit our bodies or our clothes. We told our son what to do maybe three times. When he started doing it, the puppy lost interest and left him alone.

We told our daughter what to do maybe three hundred times. She simply would not do it. Instead she’d jump around or run away, which encouraged the dog to play, chase her and bite again. When the puppy did bite, my daughter would kick her to get her off of her leg. We told our daughter that she’d hurt the puppy and the puppy would turn against her, but she kept doing it. Sometimes she’d whack the dog on the nose to get her back for biting. Again, we told her to stop. We told her the dog wouldn’t like her. And eventually it happened. My daughter would do something to the puppy and the puppy would fight back. And still, our daughter wouldn’t stop. read more

Bye-bye Buffett

parrotSaturday was my favorite day of the year – the day of the Jimmy Buffett show. I’ve been going to shows since 1997, once or twice a year on the East Coast, and one year out of six in Seattle, because he only played there once during our stay. I’ve seen him in Vegas; I’ve seen him in New York, Virginia; and I’ve seen him up close and personal in Key West.

I don’t talk about it much (or ever) here, but being a Parrot Head (for that’s what we official fans are) is a big part of my life. My husband and I met in part because of Jimmy Buffett – he found a girl on Match.com who was into Buffett and 80s hair bands and just had to meet her. Most of our closest friends come from the Parrot Head clubs that we’ve joined wherever we’ve lived. Our social life revolves around the Parrot Heads. Our kids know scores of Buffett songs and we always make sure they’ve got at least one Hawaiian shirt to wear to club gatherings (phlockings). They go to parties and charity events with us and those experiences, in part, are why they’re so good around adults. read more

Why did the turtle cross the road?

10478149_10203275277357115_8107860760990002975_N_cropI was driving to preschool, minding my own business, when I saw what looked like a big rock on the highway. I swerved to avoid it and when I got close, I realized that it wasn’t a rock. It was a turtle. An old, beautiful turtle the size of a shoe box. He was crossing the highway and had a few feet to go. If I picked him up and got him to the grass, he’d be safe.

The turtle was crossing at the exit for my son’s school – right down the road. I decided to drop my son off at school and go back for the turtle. It was risky and I worried about the turtle as I rushed out of the preschool. I got in the minivan, drove back to the spot and parked. I couldn’t see it too well, but the turtle looked different. As I got closer, I saw that he’d been hit. His shell was smashed and his guts hung out the side. He was dead. If I’d stopped when I saw him, he’d still be alive, but this magnificent creature, who had a chance just a minute ago, was dead. read more

Saying Goodbye

grandmaYiaya Julie was my birth-grandmother. I met her three years ago, when we went to New York and met my birth family. She cried and told me “I wanted to meet you before I die.” The sentiment was funny at the time. But now she’s gone, and I see how lucky we both were for those three years.

I’d never known an old person like Yiaya Julie. The old people in my family were bitter and complained all the time. Yiaya Julie was full of life, always smiling, hugging, and apologizing for her (perfect) English. We spoke to each other in a combination of English and Greek, and she was forever taking me or my kids to her apartment to do or see something special. She showed me pictures of her late husband – my grandfather – and the daughter she lost too soon. She showed my kids her pet parakeet and played games with them.

Since I only knew her for three years, I don’t know that much about Yiaya Julie’s story. I do know that she immigrated to New York from Greece and made a good life for herself. I admire her because I know I could never be that brave. read more